New Jersey lawmakers are working on legislation that would amend the state constitution to allow casinos, horse racing facilities, and the state lottery to maintain operations uninterrupted if officials fail to pass annual state operating budgets by the start of each fiscal session, which begins July 1 of every year.

The measure would require the agencies that maintain New Jersey’s gambling facilities to continue operating and “monies in any fund established to pay for state regulation of these activities would be deemed appropriated and available for expenditure by the appropriate regulatory agencies until an annual appropriations law is enacted,” according to the legislation.

The measure has worked its way through committee and now sits before the General Assembly and the Senate. Lawmakers have yet to decide when to vote on the amendment.

Treasury officials anticipate the state receiving $853 million and $426 million of lottery and casino revenue, respectively, next year, according to the state’s 2009 budget in brief.

The Legislature is currently evaluating Gov. Jon Corzine’s $33 billion fiscal 2009 budget, which includes $2.7 billion of spending cuts. The plan is smaller than the current budget of $33.5 billion. Public hearings on the 2009 budget began last week.

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